Chemical engineering has too much chemistry
Career prospects for chemical engineers and process engineers
Chemical and process engineers have a varied and interdisciplinary range of professions. In addition, they can work in interface positions between mechanical engineering, physics, mathematics and physical and technical chemistry. Furthermore, there are numerous job profiles in which you, as a chemical engineer or process engineer, can contribute your knowledge of the modification and refinement of substances through chemical, biological and physical processes. In industry, the combination of specialist knowledge and economic thinking is often required. Fields of activity that deal with compliance with safety regulations in production processes open up secure career prospects.
While the subject areas were clearly delimited in the past, the subject and course content of chemical engineering, process engineering and process engineering overlap more and more today. As a result, these three areas often only differ in terms of their focus of study. As a result, corresponding job postings are often open to chemical, process and process engineers. In everyday professional life, the transition between the fields of activity in chemical engineering and process engineering is often fluid.
Due to the practice-oriented courses, the fields of work and job profiles are very diverse. In addition to medium-sized companies and large-scale industry, research institutions also offer good career opportunities. Technical systems that are becoming ever more complex, and chemical processes that are increasingly interwoven, require engineers who want to work in an interdisciplinary manner. These developments create excellent career prospects for engineers in these fields.
Chemical engineers & process engineers in the chemical industry
The chemical industry offers promising career prospects for chemical and process engineers. Apart from that, the chemical-pharmaceutical industry is the third largest sector in Germany and comprised 462,000 jobs in 2018. This stable branch of the economy will continue to offer many jobs in the future. In a European comparison, Germany is the front runner with sales of around 200 billion euros. Among the 2,200 chemical companies in Germany, small and medium-sized companies in particular are very successful. They contribute around 30% of the total turnover in the industry and are often world market leaders in their field. It is interesting that over 90% of chemical companies have no more than 500 employees and that over a third of the jobs are generated by small and medium-sized companies (VCI).
Even in global exports, Germany holds its own as a global player with chemical exports of over 180 billion euros. Foreign companies benefit from the location advantages in Germany and invest in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry. In this way, you are making an enormous contribution to securing employment in Germany. This means that chemical and process engineers have a wide range of international career opportunities that require language skills and intercultural competence.
In addition, many factors such as globalization, nutrition, health, energy and environmental protection require innovative solutions. In the search for the solutions, chemistry plays a decisive role with sustainable developments. In the development, production and planning of these products, the job opportunities for chemical, process and process engineers look very promising.
Professional fields for chemical engineers & process engineers
The areas of chemical process engineering, physical chemistry, bioprocess engineering, food technology and process dynamics have excellent prospects. Thus, a chemical engineer can work in systems and safety technology, food technology, but also in catalyst development and system control. As a chemical or process engineer, you can also specialize in certain product ranges or their quality assurance. Product development, quality management, as well as production and research offer exciting fields of activity. In these areas of responsibility, you combine your scientific, in particular chemical, specialist knowledge with your engineering application knowledge and work e.g. B. as a researcher in the laboratory, as a system developer, as a programmer of control systems, or as an operator of production systems.
Current research topics include the areas of raw materials and energy, research into individualized nutrient supply through new protein sources, intelligent packaging, storage and use of energy and dynamic water treatment. Chemical and process engineers can also advise and supervise in the public service z. B. be active in the trade inspection.
Fields of activity
In industry, chemical, process and process engineers not only develop chemical substances or individual components, but also entire systems. Teamwork is required here. So if you enjoy working in interdisciplinary teams, these fields of activity are a good way to use your team skills. In research and development, the focus is on tailor-made production solutions. Particularly the consideration of the mechanical, chemical or corrosive load capacity of the products are subject to more and more demands. This means that you can take responsibility for tailor-made production solutions in product development and product management. There are also exciting job profiles in process technology in which sustainable material conversion processes are technically implemented and usable intermediate and end products are developed. Examples include Pharmaceuticals, fuels, cosmetics, fertilizers or paints. They are manufactured using process engineering methods and modified in such a way that they have the desired properties, such as effectiveness and shelf life.
Chemical expertise is essential, especially in research, product development and industrial applications. Specialized knowledge is required from thermal processes and separation techniques to reaction kinetics and heat and mass transfer. Findings from procedural and process engineering theories as well as experience from experimental work are also incorporated. A chemical or process engineer processes natural raw materials, but also intermediate and waste products on an industrial scale. The detailed logging of the results, the metrological planning and the computer-aided simulation of complex processes are part of daily work in this area.
Is your strengths in specialist knowledge and do you also have a good analytical mindset? These strengths are not only in demand in the professionally characterized professions such as research, development, production or plant engineering, but they are also the foundation for management positions.
Use of major subjects for career entry
The content of chemical engineering and process engineering means that many specializations are possible in the professional environment. The diversity of the degree is also reflected in the diversity of the professional fields of a chemical, process and process engineer. With your specialization in your studies you set the first course for your professional future. Have you z. B. Specialized in energy technology, career fields in the energy industry are open to you. If your focus was on process engineering or process engineering, you have professional fields such as B. open in plant engineering in the chemical industry.
In addition to the general specializations, you can create a strong foundation for your career entry through more specific specializations such as paint technology, bioprocess engineering, agricultural engineering, water technology or plastics technology. There are also good entry opportunities for a chemical engineer in the areas of environmental protection, explosion and fire protection or plant safety. The automotive sector also offers exciting prospects. In vehicle construction, topics such as material and process technology are in demand here. Progressive developments in electromobility are creating important areas of application in energy generation and transport, as well as rechargeable batteries and battery technology. Early practical phases in industry create good prerequisites for entry into varied and interdisciplinary fields of work.
Due to the large number of international companies, a good knowledge of English and a solid specialist vocabulary can be important for professional success. Likewise, a chemical or process engineer should have good communication skills in order to be able to successfully shape their career path as a team member or later as a team leader.
Industries for chemical and process engineers
- Chemical, paint and plastics industries
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Environmental and energy technology
- Food industry and biotechnology
- Paper, wood and pulp industryƒ
- Plant construction
- Processing and processing companies
- Petrochemicals, petroleum and petroleum derivatives
- Research institutions
- Automotive industry
Success factors for chemical and process engineers
- Established expert knowledge
- Broad basic knowledge in mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering specialist knowledge
- Urge to experiment for constant further development
- Enthusiasm for complex issues
- Ability to think in an interdisciplinary manner
- Communication skills
- Intercultural Competence
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